15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Surreal and Memorable Piece of Movie Making.
There have been many powerful anti war movies made over the years. Perhaps the grandaddy of them all was Lewis Milestone's "All Quiet on the Western Front". But there were others that were just as good like Kubrick's "Paths of Glory", Renoir's "La Grande Illusion", Cimino's "The Deerhunter", and Malick's haunting "The Thin Red Line". This film is not perhaps in that...
Published on 29 July 2010 by Bob Salter
3.0 out of 5 stars A Midnight Confusion?
Must say that this film confused me a bit. How can a squad leader not keep all his men in the loop, especially when the 'plan' was so tentative at best? The fact that one of his charges was obviously so close to section 8 should have taught him to keep some sort of leash on him so that the 'plan' could take its' course.
Mmmm...not convinced by this movie. Given the...
Published 5 months ago by Bernard A Kilcullen
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Surreal and Memorable Piece of Movie Making.,
This review is from: Midnight Clear [DVD]  [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)There have been many powerful anti war movies made over the years. Perhaps the grandaddy of them all was Lewis Milestone's "All Quiet on the Western Front". But there were others that were just as good like Kubrick's "Paths of Glory", Renoir's "La Grande Illusion", Cimino's "The Deerhunter", and Malick's haunting "The Thin Red Line". This film is not perhaps in that league, but it is certainly a powerful piece of filmmaking. I am very surprised that it is so little known and hard to get hold of. It certainly deserves to be much better known.
The film is set in the Ardednnes during the winter of 1944, towards the end of the second world war just before the Germans last desperate throw of the dice with "The Battle of the Bulge" offensive. An American intelligence unit is sent forward to carry out reconnaissance duties. Each of them has an IQ of a 150 or more, so they are well qualified for their duties. During their patrol they come into contact with a small German unit who wish to surrender. The groups exchange Christmas greetings and a truce is observed between them. But will the peace last?
The film is based on William Wharton's semi autobiographical novel, and the screeplay and direction was by Keith Gordon, a young actor making only his second feature film. Much credit should go to Gordon's flair for visual storytelling. There is one powerful scene of a dead German and American soldier caught in a last frozen embrace as if dancing, which reminded me of a scene from Siegfried Sassoon's great book of the First World War "Memoirs of a Fox Hunting Man". Gordon also recruited a fine ensemble cast of young actors who were largely unkown at the time, but who all went on to varying degees of success. Gary Sinise of "Forrest Gump" fame, Ethan Hawke and Kevin Dillon being the best known. All the cast give strong convincing performances. Tom Richmond's stark photography of the frozen forest is also worthy of special praise. The film cleverly rathchets up the suspense without resorting to the usual action associated with war movies. The fear is more psychological, and all the more powerful for that.
One reviewer mentions the Burt Lancaster film "Castle Keep", which it strongly resembles in its almost surreal quality, and also in its Ardennes setting. The more recent film "Silent Night", also concerns a truce between German and American soldiers in the Ardennes at Christmas time. Christmas has often been used in anti war films for added poignancy. Another recurring theme in these films is the common soldier recognising that the greatest enemy to him is his own commanding officers. Something that this high IQ unit recognises quite quickly. One recalls Geoffrey Palmer as Field Marshall Sir Douglas Haig in the TV series "Blackadder Goes Forth" casually swatting down hundreds of toy soldiers on his board, in a bitterly dark slice of virtuoso humour. This is an intelligent and at times hypnotic film, that packs a powerful punch. An excellent effort by all those involved in its making.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Midnight Clear, a stunning film.......A+,
This review is from: A Midnight Clear [DVD] (DVD)I saw this film late one night on tv about 8 years ago now, and it was fantastic ! It's taken me ages to find it on dvd.
If you like your war stories with thoughtful characters, and a depth of what I can only assume to be realism (as I was not there) - then this is for you. A sort of early version of "Saints and Soldiers" but with much better acting and effects.....
Very little bad language, as the G.I's are all highly educated intel men and have chosen not to swear, but quite graphic in many other respects. The opening scene is pretty disturbing, and looks to be filmed on location somewhere extremely cold with loads of PROPER snow, not that usual Hollywood "salt" scattered everywhere.
William Wharton seems to be the man, the book "A Midnight Clear" is excellent, and don't forget, he wrote "Birdy", which has been favourably reviewed here on Amazon too.
Anyway, rent or buy "A Midnight Clear", I can almost guarantee you'll enjoy it.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Dreamlike Presentation of War's Harsh Realities,
This review is from: Midnight Clear [DVD]  [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)As I saw this film and Castle Keep again recently, I thought about Stanley Weintraub's book Silent Night in which he discusses a brief period prior to Christmas in 1914, on the battlefields of Flanders, when German and British soldiers spontaneously agreed to declare a truce and suspend fighting, thereby defying their commanding officers. Centuries ago, knights and their attendants would work with their enemies to clear a field for combat the next day. Such cooperation had an obvious practical value. That's not what interests Weintraub as he examines a temporary truce during one of the bloodiest wars ever fought. It had little (if any) practical or tactical value but it did (and does) suggest a human need which transcends military obligations. However, war is war. After a brief respite, the carnage inevitably resumes.
A Midnight Clear was directed by Keith Gordon and is based on William Wharton's autobiographical novel. Rather than featuring a star such as Burt Lancaster (as in A Midnight Clear), the lead roles in this film are played by those normally seen in supporting roles. For example, Kevin Dillon, Ethan Hawke, and Gary Sinise. They and all others in the cast are first-rate. Basically, here's the situation. An elite U.S. Army intelligence unit is given a reconnaissance mission in the Ardennes Forest in December of 1944, just before the Battle of the Bulge. The men in the platoon may be far from home as Christmas approaches, lonely and miserably cold, but they retain a certain playful spirit comparable with what Robert Altman celebrates in M.A.S.H. They encounter a German unit and then....
While seeing this film the first time and then again recently, I felt as if I were dreaming that I had returned to the 1940s in a time machine, to Belgium near the end of World War Two. Credit Tom Richmond's cinematography with creating an uncommonly beautiful setting for the savage combat which occurs there, as does John Mathieson during the "Hell Unleashed" sequence early in Gladiator. The dreamlike atmosphere continues throughout as the men suspend and then resume their own involvement in the war. This is a haunting film, at times an exquisitely lovely film, but also one which raises some serious questions. Why not throw snow balls instead of grenades, then treat each other to a round of drinks? Why not celebrate Christmas together, exchanging gifts and singing carols, as their ancestors once did on Christmas Eve in 1914, on the battlefields of Flanders? Doesn't all that make much more sense than killing each other? Of course.
4.0 out of 5 stars Another side to war,
This review is from: A Midnight Clear : 20th Anniversary Edition [DVD]  (DVD)In 1992, a cast of relative unknowns was assembled for this unusual war film, set during the Ardennes campaign, in 1944. Gary Sinese, Kevin Dillon, and Ethan Hawke, went on to greater things, and some of the reasons why can be seen in their earlier performances here. A small detachment of American soldiers stumbles across some German troops during the fighting. The Germans want to surrender, so a mock battle is staged, after which the Germans become prisoners. However, the truce is tested by events, and eventually breaks down, with a bloody outcome. Intelligent and different, yet still familiar in structure, this interesting film will leave you thinking about another side to war.
5.0 out of 5 stars Great film,
So much truly wonderful programing is simply not released in the United States or is released in a heavily censored version.
I truly appreciate Amazon UK, thank you.
4.0 out of 5 stars Unusual,
This review is from: A Midnight Clear : 20th Anniversary Edition [DVD]  (DVD)Depressing anti-war movie well worth watching
Sumus semper in excretum sed alta variant
When things go wrong they really spiral out of control
4.0 out of 5 stars A Classic Movie!,
5.0 out of 5 stars Better than SA,
This review is from: A Midnight Clear : 20th Anniversary Edition [DVD]  (DVD)This DVD came from London all the way through customs and to my postbox in SA faster than it would take a letter to do the 500 km from my home to Durban - excellent and efficient and in comparitive terms - affordable service.
3.0 out of 5 stars A Midnight Confusion?,
This review is from: A Midnight Clear : 20th Anniversary Edition [DVD]  (DVD)Must say that this film confused me a bit. How can a squad leader not keep all his men in the loop, especially when the 'plan' was so tentative at best? The fact that one of his charges was obviously so close to section 8 should have taught him to keep some sort of leash on him so that the 'plan' could take its' course.
Mmmm...not convinced by this movie. Given the cast I expected a little more, sorry.
5.0 out of 5 stars Midnight Clear-I had to come to the UK to get it!,
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A Midnight Clear : 20th Anniversary Edition [DVD]  by Keith Gordon (DVD - 2012)